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September 22, 2016
HUMANS PRIMARILY PERCEIVE the world through sight, and the colors of our surroundings can have a significant impact on the way we feel and behave.
It may sound far-fetched at first, but marketing companies spend a lot of money around the concept that color can influence what consumers buy.
For example, if you walk down the cleaning product aisle, you’ll notice that the majority of product labels are blue. That’s because blue denotes cleanliness while simultaneously eliciting a sense of trust.
Nearly every color has a subtle but specific effect on the human mind. The reasons behind these associations are complex, but science has found that the paint colors in your home can affect your emotional well-being. You can use this information to create a palette of colors for your bedroom that promotes relaxation and sleep.
Cultural and historical associations play a significant role in the way that colors make us feel, and there is some disparity between gender when it comes to color preferences. For example, green is associated with luck in some cultures and death in others, and more women than men like the color purple.
But there’s also a biological explanation for certain reactions to color. For example, blue is almost universally associated with calm, while red is strongly connected with aggression. This is a result of the effect that color has on the brain.
Color is actually light on the visible spectrum, and each color has its own wavelength. You may remember that the order of colors on the visible spectrum, or “rainbow order,” is red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet from the old-school mnemonic trick, “ROY G. BIV.”
Red has the longest wavelength, and these lengths decrease along the spectrum, so violet has the shortest. As these varying wavelengths enter the retina, they are converted to distinct electrical impulses, and then sent to the hypothalamus.
The hypothalamus controls sleep as well as functions of the autonomic nervous system like blood pressure and heart rate. The different electrical impulses created by each color’s specific wavelength exert specific influence over the hypothalamus.
The best colors to promote relaxation and sleep tend to be on the cool side of the color spectrum. A study from 1972 found that colors in the blue-green range had the strongest impact on circadian rhythm, the biological process governing sleep. If you’re on the market for new bedroom colors ideas include seafoam, cerulean, and periwinkle. Shades of blue help reduce blood pressure and heart rate, which is very helpful when you’re trying to wind down at the end of the day.
Green is particularly restful because its wavelength requires the least adjustment before being transferred to the hypothalamus. Shades of purple are on the cool side of the spectrum as well, but steer clear of purples containing a lot of red.
Colors that stimulate and energize are typically not a good choice for the bedroom if your main goal is relaxation and quality sleep. Red raises the pulse, making it hard to relax. Yellow provokes a strong emotional response, and while certain shades can be uplifting, other shades promote anxiety. Shades of orange and brown are on the warm side of the spectrum as well, but are less associated with strong physical and emotional responses. If you’re determined to use a warm paint color in the bedroom, those in the orange and brown family are a better choice than shades of red or yellow.